You’ve scheduled all transportation, organized for lodging, made your employer aware you’re taking a vacation, and arranged for someone to water the plants. What do you need to do next to make sure you have a care-free vacation? Here are the top ten things you need to do before heading out the door.

  1. Call your credit card companies and bank. Even if you’re staying within your home country, financial institutions may freeze your card if they see a bunch of charges coming from a location they don’t normally originate from. Ward off this impending problem–that can put a huge wrench in your fun–by calling the financial institutions whose cards you will be using and let them know what dates you will be traveling and to where.
  2. Make sure you have all your travel documents and that you’ve emailed yourself a copy of them. I send myself a copy of my passport and a list of all important numbers, including my frequent flier numbers and telephone numbers for credit card companies, bank, hotels, airlines, etc. Although I generally have a printed copy of all tickets and reservations, I also email myself these copies so that I have all my travel confirmations in one place. If your wallet is stolen, you will be happy that you have the information you need.
  3. Check your phone plan. This is especially important if you are leaving the country. Using your phone abroad can result in an astronomical phone bill, if you haven’t planned for it. Check out the plans your carrier has for leaving the country. If they’re too costly, consider buying a SIM card from the country in which you’re traveling or use Whatsapp via wi-fi. Just make sure you have turned off your data and roaming, so that there are no nasty surprises.
  4. Pay bills and make sure you have banking apps on your phone so that you can monitor your finances. You don’t want to come home from a fun vacation to find an overdue notice on a bill and a late fee, or a mistaken charge from a place that could easily have been squared away when you were still in the area.
  5. Make sure your phone is uploaded with all the travel apps you will need and bookmark any pertinent travel websites. Before I leave–and when I still have steady wi-fi, I upload all the travel apps I need (airline, lodging, sightseeing) and download any podcasts I plan to play (I love Rick Steves Europe app), maps I want to access, and any other data I want to use when offline. I also bookmark any cool websites I’ve found detailing sites to see, places to shop, restaurants at which to eat, or adventures to have.
  6. Create a comprehensive packing list that you email to yourself. Also, take a picture of your luggage. If your bag goes missing, a photo & packing list will be of great assistance when the airline asks what your bag looked like and what you had packed in it. The last time our luggage was lost, when the airline worker asked me for a description and I responded that it was black, his eyes almost rolled out of his head. I think they hear “black roller bag” a lot. I suggest wrapping a distinctive piece of ribbon around your luggage to help identify your bag–on the carousel and if it’s lost. Even if your bags don’t get lost, it’s nice to have the packing list to make sure you go home with everything you came with.
  7. Speaking of security measures, take a picture of your unplugged iron, stove turned off, etc. You can ward off the dreaded “did I turn it off” fears that happen when traveling by taking pictures of the appliances you worry about most. If you wake up in a panic, just look at the picture of your iron’s cord hanging off the ironing board and you’ll be able to fall right back to sleep.
  8. Have the postal service hold your mail. This also serves as a security measure as potential thieves won’t see your mailbox overflowing.
  9. You may want to let a trusted neighbor know you will be gone. We file a report with the police department so that they know we’re out of town. When patrolling, they keep an eye out for suspicious activity and if there was a fire they would be able to alert the fire department that our home was vacant.
  10. Make sure any prescriptions you need are filled so that you don’t run out mid-vacation. You don’t want to leave this to the last minute, as some prescriptions may be restricted and your doctor will need to prescribe them specially to cover your vacation.

I hope these tips help you have a restful & organized trip. Happy travels!

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